Friday, October 29, 2010

NaNo Sidelines

I am not going to participate in NaNoWriMo (National Writing Month) this year because:


-Last year I tried and failed miserably, writing about 12,000 words that almost all had to be deleted.

-I'm kind of busy this month what with
--my baby who is still way too tiny to sleep more than 3 hours at a time (which means I never sleep more than 3 hours at a time)
--Laundry
--Thanksgiving with 20+ family members at my house

-I'm finally ALMOST done with the manuscript I've been working on for a year and if I just buckle down I might be able to finish it in November.

Still NaNo is tempting because:

-I have a new idea that is WAY different from the project I'm working on and it sounds like more fun.

-Revising my current project is hard work

-I like to make my life as crazy as possible

But don't worry. I'm not going to give in. Maybe I'll try NaNo again next year. This year I'll be doing NaNoReviseMo and *hopefully* finishing this sucker.

Are you doing NaNo this year?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Revising: The Chain Reaction

Right now I'm knee deep in revisions. I'm adding scenes, fleshing out characters, and trying to decide if the ending is awesome or really crappy. Good times.

One of the problems I run into every time I revise a manuscript is the chain reaction.

The chain reaction occurs when I decide that the choice the main character made on page 5 really isn't consistent with his character the rest of the story. He must make a different choice. That different choice snowballs into changes on pages 6, 8, and 10 and those changes cause problems with pages 12, 16, and 20. Pretty soon I'm rewriting almost the entire book.

This makes me crazy.

I try to come up with some way I could just not change the thing on page 5, but I'm pretty sure the book will stink if I leave it as it is. I try to patch up pages 6 and 8 so they won't cause problems later. Some of the patches work. Most don't. The chain reaction has taken hold of the manuscript and it won't let go until I rewrite every single thing in it's path.

The interesting thing is, though I hate chain reactions while I'm revising, I love chain reaction revisions once I'm done. They fill in the gaps and make the characters believable.

Do you run into chain reactions when you revise? Is this a problem plotters run into too, or does it only happen to those of us who write without outlines?


Sunday, October 17, 2010

I'm Soooo Mature

I turned 30 yesterday. Yup, the big 3-0.

I'm thinking that having three decades under my belt (not to mention 4 kids, a dog, and a mortgage) ought to mean that I am finally mature.

But, I don't think that's the case. In fact, I fear my maturity might be declining.

I had pretty sophisticated tastes in high school. I read Dickens and Austen and I appreciated good food and nice clothes. In college I still liked those things, but I started reading some YA too and eating whatever I could afford and dressing in whatever was still wearable from my high school years.

Now, at 30, I pretty much wear whatever has an elastic waistband. I eat whatever the kids are eating--mostly peanut butter and jelly, mac and cheese, and chicken nuggets. And I read more kids books than anything else. I laugh at vomit jokes. I don't make my bed. And when my husband gets home I giggle as the kids tell poop stories from the day.

I am not mature, which is probably why I love writing middle grade stories. I'm working on revisions for my current MG novel right now and as I read through the manuscript I realized just how juvenile I've become.

When I first started writing I planned to write a serious novel for adults about one man's influence in life and death. It was going to be deep. Instead I'm writing about eleven-year-old boys who play on kickball teams called "The Ugly Butts" and "The Smelly Armpits." Nice.

I blame it on my kids.

How about you? Have you gained or lost maturity as you've aged?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It Takes Time to Write a Book

But how much time does it take? I've read about authors taking decades to write novels and I've also read about books that were completed in a few weeks.

I wrote Underground, the novel that got me my agent, in 4 months.

I've been working on my current manuscript for almost year. I'm still working on the second draft, and if I am very honest with myself I think it's likely that I won't finish this book until 2011.

This is frustrating! I've been working hard at it. Why is it taking so long?

Well, I could blame the fact that I've been pregnant. I could subtract two months for horrific morning sickness and I probably subtract the last three months of the pregnancy too, because I was sicker than I was during the morning sickness part. But even if I subtract all the months when I was unable to be productive, this book will still take WAY longer to write than the last one did.

Why? Because it's a different book. There are new puzzles to work out and new characters to get to know and maybe some of those puzzles and characters have been trickier for me to get right.

Also, I'm not quite as clueless this time around. My writing pace slows as I make a conscious effort to use more action verbs and fewer adjectives and adverbs.

Plus I'm going to makes sure to give this one to a lot of great beta readers before my agent sees it. Underground was only beta read by family members before I queried. As a result it needed A LOT of post-querying editing and rewriting. Hopefully this one won't need as much.

I've accepted that every book is different and some might just take a little longer to bake than others. Every writer is different too, and though I'd love to be able to write a book every few weeks, I don't think I'm that kind of writer.

How long did it take you to write your novel? Are you one of those writers who can churn out a masterpiece every month? Or are you still working on the one you started 25 years ago?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Real Life is Boring...

And that's a good thing.

Tomorrow I go back to real life. For the last 3 weeks I've either been living in the hospital or home with my mom or mother-in-law helping me. Friends and neighbors have brought meals almost every night. It's been incredible. We feel very loved.

But the time has come to return to normal. My mother-in-law left today, which means I'll be cleaning my house and caring for my kids all by myself again. I am strangely excited about this. I can't wait to get back into my routine--my lovely, boring routine. These past few weeks have been WAY too exciting for us.

Exciting stuff belongs in stories.

I'm still trying to adjust to the baby's (lack of) sleep schedule and my brains are pretty frazzled. I tried to write a real blog post today and it came out completely incoherent. I'll try again next week.

Is your life usually boring too? Do you like it that way?